Objective: Risk taking affects human behavior in general and decisions in medicine in particular. We used game theory to assess physicians’ risk-taking tendencies. Methods: Physicians were recruited to the study by advertisement. It was explained that they would receive a sum of money for correct prediction of the flipping of a coin. They could try to sell their opportunity to flip the coin for an amount of money they determined. The sum offered by the participants was considered an indicator of risk taking. A demographic questionnaire assessed age, sex, seniority, and area of specialization of the participants. A multivariate analysis assessed associations between risk-taking behavior and, seniority, and specialization. Results: Sixty-two physicians participated, 36 males and 26 females, seniority 1-34 years. Of a possible range of 0-10, the mean score for risk taking was 5.5 - just slightly more than indifference. Negative correlations were found between risk taking and seniority, and between risk taking and age (β =−0.45, P,0.001 for both). Surgeons and anesthesiologists showed greater risk taking than did other physicians (β =0.69, P,0.05); and females less than males, though the latter correlation was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Understanding the tendency of physicians to risk taking may elucidate their decision-making processes and contribute to understanding of causes of adverse events and to the education of physicians.
- Game theory
- Risk taking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health